Fun in the (Artificial) Sun

October 10, 2014 · Education ·

I’ve never been that interested in weather forecasts. I generally look outside the window in the morning to figure out what I’m wearing that day. But last week, I was anxiously reading every weather report I could find. You see, last Saturday’s family program was supposed to include a cyanotype workshop. Cyanotypes are a form of photography where cyan-blue prints are developed using only sunlight and water. Emphasis on the sunlight. I thought this would be a great activity to celebrate the opening of our new exhibit Hartford Seen: Photographs by Pablo Delano, but I probably should not have counted on sunshine in October.

DSC_0416Thankfully, we were able to make our own sun on Saturday. As I did a sun dance, Christine Breslin, a local photographer who joined us that Saturday to run the workshop, acquired a UV light that we could use as a back-up light source. Which was perfect, because as you all know, it did in fact pour for the entire day on Saturday. But who needs sun when you have Craigslist?

With a few adaptations, we were able to pull off a successful program. Children made their own cyanotype print by placing different objects over the chemically-treated cotton squares. It’s best to use flat objects that will lie flat against the fabric to get the best print, so we had keys, buttons, and shells as well as some doilies and netting that created some very cool designs.


After children were satisfied with their composition, we put the cyanotypes under the UV light to “cook” while families went into the auditorium to make a photo frame. After ten minutes, we took out the fabric, removed the objects and washed the fabric out in water. The result was beautiful deep blue prints, each with their own unique design. Children, parents, and even our volunteers and staff members all loved experimenting with different materials and designs. It turns out you can have fun on a rainy day!

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